There are tons of obvious benefits and drawbacks to working for the CIA. Obvious benefit: it sounds really cool to say you work there. Obvious drawback: sucky pay. But here are some of the benefits and drawbacks with which you might not be so familiar.


  • The CIA will cover your moving expenses and ship up to 18,000 pounds of your stuff. Isn't that ducky?

  • If you happen to work at the CIA's headquarters in Langley, VA (which will probably be the case), you can expect many of the quality of life perks that would be available in a similar corporate environment, including: casual dress when appropriate, fully-equipped fitness facilities, a jogging track, walking paths, access to entertainment tickets, on-site dry cleaners, film processing, and a barber shop.

  • The CIA sponsors many of its employees for full or part-time schooling at area universities, such as Georgetown, George Mason University, and the University of Virginia. For college students, there's a program that offers tuition assistance and summer jobs in exchange for promising to work at the CIA after graduation.

  • The CIA takes good care of its workers. From retirement plans to family leave to vacation time to health benefits, you won't get screwed over when it comes to preparing for your twilight years.

  • Patriotism is cited as one of the main reasons for working at the CIA. It is an intangible form of compensation that to some extent balances the lower-than-private-sector government salaries. Most CIA employees would say they are not in it for the money.


  • You're not really allowed to tell anybody what you do at work. This is especially true if you train to become a "clandestine service operation officer" (A.K.A. "spy"). So we hope you can keep a secret.

  • You'll probably have to relocate to Virginia, where the headquarters is located. If you ever get placed in another city/country, you'll probably have no say over where. And as you advance through the ranks, the chances of foreign travel increase. So if you and your family are not travel freaks, you might want to reconsider.

  • Did we mention the rotten pay?